China: Wave of hornet attacks kill 28 people, injure hundreds

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The Shaanxi relocation is being billed as the largest ever government-led people moving project in the history of modern China. Close to 3 million people will be relocated, 2.5 million in southern Shaanxi, and nearly 500,000 in the north, which is double the number of people moved for the Three Gorges Dam.

Credit:

Sharron Lovell

Hornet attacks are a fact of life for people living in rural areas of central China, where every year a few people are stung to death.

But this year the problem has been unusually severe.

In the past three months, 28 people have been killed and hundreds more injured in Shaanxi province after being stung by swarms of hornets.

One patient being treated in Ankang hospital suffered acute renal failure after being stung repeatedly by hornets, which he said had chased him for more than 200 meters.

A woman from the same village has been in hospital for more than a month and is still incontinent after being stung hundreds of times.

Weather changes may be partly to blame for the unusual severity of this year’s attacks – the hornets breed more successfully in warmer temperatures.

There appear to be two culprits for the vicious attacks: the Asian giant hornet, or Vespa mandarinia, and the smaller Asian hornet, or Vespa velutina nigrithorax.

 

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